Guns and Weapons on the Road
By Kent Butterfield
Reprinted from Fulltime Families Magazine
Concerning carrying a weapon your first thought should be, “Why do I want to carry?” Carrying a weapon is NOT an ego boost nor a call for vigilante justice. The primary reason most people carry is for personal and family protection in dangerous situations. Believe it or not police have no legal responsibility to protect individuals, and therefore judicial remedies are not available for their failure to protect any individual. There are many court cases and Supreme Court decisions affirming this fact. (see http://www.firearmsandliberty.com/kasler-protection.html ) The bottom line is that individual citizens are responsible for their own personal protection. The gun owner’s humor answers the question why carry a weapon with, “Because carrying a whole policeman would be too heavy.” or “Remember, when seconds count in an emergency, the police are only minutes away.” The fact is that those are precisely the reasons why people carry a weapon. Personal protection from injury or death, deterrence of felonies against you and your family, detention of felons, and denial of attempted crime are significant to personal survival and may answer your question as to why.
However the opposite question also needs to be answered, “Why I should not carry?” There are some very good reasons to not carry a weapon. If your temperament is such that your anger can get control of you, don’t carry. If you cannot effectively use a weapon then you definitely should not carry a weapon. If the law precludes you from owning or carrying a weapon, usually because of a felony conviction, DUI, domestic violence conviction or other legal problem, then carrying a weapon would only further harm your record. If you are addicted to drugs or alcohol you definitely should not carry.
The decision to carry a weapon is one to be taken seriously and to be done with much contemplation and self inspection. Once you have decided to carry there even more considerations such as what shall I carry; shall I carry open or concealed; is it possible for me to carry a weapon without it becoming visible even accidentally; where am I travelling and what are the laws there; how capable and proficient am I with my weapon; when would it be wise to use my weapon; when would it be wise to avoid use, etc.
In order to be the safest, most capable carrier of a weapon it is critical that you train well and often. You should find a qualified arms trainer (NRA certifies weapons instructors. Look for that in their qualifications). The website http://publicsafety.utah.gov/bci/documents/TRANGUIDELINES_011.pdf is a list of training requirements for the Utah permit. It is a minimum of what I would want for firearms classroom training. Training often, going to a firing range regularly for practice, will keep your skills honed and give you more confidence.
Finally, you need to consider what situations would require you to use your weapon. Rule number one is that your weapon is never your primary means of defense. Avoidance, escape, reasoning, all come before use of a weapon. If you feel your life or the life of another is threatened, or a felony is being committed on you or your property then use of a weapon MAY be proper. Even then it is better to use your weapon to avoid the conflict that to use it and kill or injure someone. It is never legal to display a weapon (called brandishing) or threaten use of a weapon for the purpose of threatening someone or to resolve a non lethal argument.
In the final installment of this series we will try to answer the questions what should I carry, how should I carry, how do I stay safe and legal, and what if I have to use my weapon.